Well, this is difficult for me. I did a lot of voluntary work for my local canone club. Not for gain, just because I enjoyed it and wanted to give something back to the many coaches who had helped me become proficient at the sport.

We also had a lot of good young people at the club and they needed to stretch on white water and outside of the boring narrow confines of the pool and the lake.

I stopped going to the pool because I didn’t agree with the way the sessions were being run by the Capsize Stazi who were forcing scared kids to capsize their kayaks and do a capsize drill. My daughter was one of the victims, but not the only one. When I coach I never force anybody to do anything, all I say is if you want qualification x you must meet the criteria. If you don’t want it today, that’s fine, no worries. My daughter won’t even get in a kayak now. Not that I’m angry about this or anything, honest. Not much.

OK, I ran one event a month for the best part of 2 years. Rosie ran one also, she prefers flatter water and social paddling. Hey, this is good, if she wanted to do white water we’d always be fighting over child care.

About 9 months ago I realised that I had “coachitis”, as in my own skills were not progressing, going backwards if anything, and I seemed to be spending all of my time helping others and getting frustrated. I decided to take some time off but, because I am so fed up, I haven’t been kayaking for myself, I haven’t done any at all. This is upsetting because I used to get so much pleasure out of it. I’ve tried to go out a number of times and it always feels like my limbs are made of lead and I go climbing or walking instead. Note that I got no support from the club at all – no-one even bothered to talk to me.

In the midst of all this the club’s ineffectual chariman (nice guy, always says he’s going to do things and never does) decides (or gets talked into, I think) that we should go for “top club” status. This means we can apply for grants and things (we already have more kit than we can use because of earlier success). I don’t care about such things, think they’re nonsense to be honest. In fact I think its state-sponsored bureaucratic crap that allows politicians to say they’re helping the community because they put 50 pence in a tin. I’d rather be self-sufficient and pursue my sport for its own sake. I also have talked to other paddlers in other parts of the country who have no kit at all and need grants and so on a hell of a lot more than we do.

After a lot of humming and ha’ing and help from the club secretary who actually does the work of filling the forms in, proving we do enough to justify this status, and it is granted. I think I made a substantial contribution to this, as did Rosie, and have been thanked at most once. Thing is, there’s been almost no extra-curricular activities since I withdrew. I’m not sure that the status is deserved any more.

The other active coach is a very self-centred guy who is responsible for the Capsize Stazi incidents. He is apparently doing the 3 things he always does (when he doesn’t cancel with a week’s notice). He only ever does things if they are of personal benefit to him and is always finding ways of not spending his money. It’s a very unedifying spectacle and gives me the creeps. There was an incident when I was paddling with him when I thought I was going to die, but that’s another story. I decided not to paddle with him because I don’t trust his judgement, this was before the incident with my daughter and I wish I had spoken up then, but if wishes were fishes … I suppose I should learn from it and speak up next time and every time.

The chair has decided to have a big jamboree on a weekend Rosie and I can’t make it. All of the local politiciains will be there and the press, glad handing him and others. This will not do his career, or the that of other coach, any harm at all. They are or will be teachers or youth worker co-ordinators. To be fair, I don’t think this was deliberate, just typical of the cloth-eared way he does everything. We were given two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion, which he does when it suits his plans, which I suppose means he doesn’t listen really.

Then there is the vexed question of the website. My dear friend Roger set it up for us for free on one of his servers, it has content management and all sorts of useful stuff like diary management and bulletin boards if we can find time to learn to use it. The chair thinks it doesn’t work and keeps getting people who are not IT professionals, which Rosie and I are, to do things for 50p. If the club were buying equipment then we would ask the people who know for their opinions, but because your mate can do a web site for £50 and you haven’t bothered to ask (or even read the minutes of the meetings when you were told) you don’t realise you alreay have a site that will meet all of your needs for nothing. Cloth ears and wasting club funds. But just stupid and ignorant. To be honest you get this all the time with the web, everyone thinks they can do it for a packet of crisps and wonder why it looks crap when they do. It’s also a control-freak thing – getting his mate to do it puts him in charge.

Rosie resigned from the committee a couple of days ago from sheer frustration at nothing ever getting done. She used to play buzzword bingo:

“keep on agenda” – no-one’s bothered to do anything (again)
“the chair will do that” – it won’t happen
“coaching report” – my PC broke (I couldn’t be arsed)

Plus the words “the pool” and “the lake” and “top club” will be mentioned. This will also take all night. The comittee members promised newsletter articles every month and there never are any. Rosie was suppose to put them up on the web site but you can’t put stuff up that’s not there, can you? This may be why the web site is thought to be bad, I dunno.

Please understand, I’m not angry. I did the voluntary work because I wanted to and would have done it anyway. I just feel that it’s been manipulated into something that I wasn’t ever consulted about and may not agree with. I just don’t know what it is and no-one’s ever thought to tell me.

I haven’t renewed my membership this year and I will definitely get back into a kayak. I have joined a different club who (wait for it) JUST GO PADDLING FOR FUN!!!!!! Whoeee !!!!! All I need to do is overcome my unwillingness to get in a kayak because of all the bad connotations it’s been generating in my mind.